Jan 10, 2009

Sport - Tennis;Murray stifles Federer to roar into Doha final

Defending champion Andy Murray maintained his hold over Roger Federer to charge into the final of the Qatar Open with a 6-7 6-2 6-2 win on Friday.

The British third seed frustrated Federer with his tactical nous from the baseline to chalk up his fifth win in six matches against the 13-times grand slam champion.

Murray will be hoping to retain his title when he takes on American Andy Roddick in the final.

The world number four earned the sole break point of the opening set but could only watch from the baseline as Federer conjured up a screeching forehand winner to avert the danger.

The Swiss, who will be seeking to win a record-equalling 14th grand slam crown at the Australian Open later this month, let slip a 4-1 lead in the tiebreak and had to save a set point at 5-6 with a delicate backhand volley.

An ace moved him 7-6 ahead and he kept his focus to caress a backhand crosscourt winner and take the set on the hour mark.

From then on, Federer appeared to fade away as Murray produced winners from all angles. He hit back to win the second set with two breaks, often giving a frustrated Federer the runaround.

Leading 2-1 in the deciding set, Murray called in the trainer to get his back massaged. The interruption failed to distract him and he relentlessly attacked the Federer backhand to immediately gain a 3-1 lead.

Winning only two games from 2-2 in the second set, Federer compounded his own misery by producing a string of unforced errors.

Barely able to produce the form that has arguably made him the greatest player to pick up a tennis racket, Federer surrendered the match by slamming an easy overhead into the net.

Business - Boeing cuts 4,500 jobs, adds to U.S. employment woe

Boeing Co became the latest U.S. industrial giant to cut jobs on Friday, shedding 4,500 workers from its commercial plane operations, or about 7 percent of the unit total, as it looks to trim costs in the face of a global recession.

The world's No. 2 plane maker joins Alcoa Inc, Caterpillar Inc, Chrysler LLC, 3M Co and others in shedding jobs to counter a drop in demand.

The U.S. economy lost more than 500,000 non-farm jobs in December alone, according to the government's latest figures, and unemployment is now at a nearly 16-year high.

Boeing, which lost the race for orders against EADS unit Airbus last year, said normal attrition and a reduction in contract labor would account for some of the job losses, but layoffs would also be necessary.

Most of the jobs are overhead functions and not directly associated with plane manufacturing, Boeing said. The jobs will chiefly be cut from Boeing's massive Seattle-area plants, between April and June.

"This is another painful reminder that the recession is hitting home for Washington state families," said Washington Democrat Sen. Patty Murray, in a statement. "Boeing is part of the lifeblood of our region and when Boeing hurts, Washington state hurts."

The commercial plane unit will employ about 63,500 workers after the reductions, it said, about the same level as at the beginning of 2008. It employed 67,659 people at the end of last year.

Boeing, which also is the U.S. No. 2 defense contractor, had just over 162,000 employees overall at the end of last year.

Its shares, which are down 46 percent over the past 12 months, dipped 5 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $44.74 on the New York Stock Exchange.


Boeing is looking to slim down as it begins to tackle a downturn in plane orders after an unprecedented three-year boom.

It booked 662 jetliner orders last year, a 53 percent drop from its industry record of 1,413 orders the year before, with airlines holding off on buying new planes as they witnessed a sharp drop-off in demand for flights.

Boeing has a record 3,714 planes in its backlog to deliver to customers -- more than six years of work at full production levels -- but industry analysts agree that many orders will be deferred and the company faces a drastic decline in new orders.

"We are taking prudent actions to make sure Boeing remains well positioned in today's difficult economic environment," said Scott Carson, chief executive of Boeing's commercial plane unit, in a statement.

The job cuts come shortly after Boeing suffered a bitter strike by its 27,000 production workers, which closed its plants for almost two months. Part of the disagreement between management and its machinists' union revolved around job security and the company's right to outsource work.

Tech - Windows 7 download demand overwhelms MS servers

Microsoft's mighty servers were overwhelmed as computer users worldwide rushed to download a free test version of a Windows 7 operating system being groomed to succeed Vista.

A virtual queue formed on the Internet in the hours on Friday before the planned release of Windows 7 "beta" software at noon local time in Microsoft's headquarters in Washington State.

"There was a line of people waiting online, so the noon release became an about-noon release," said a Microsoft spokesman showing off Microsoft's latest innovations at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

A flood of requests slowed Microsoft industrial-strength computers, causing delays and disappointments.

The window for downloading the test-version of Windows 7 closes the last day of January, Microsoft said. Microsoft wants feedback from users to refine the new operating system, but doesn't plan to change or add features.

"We got ourselves in a little trouble with Windows Vista; it became a bag of mixed things and didn't really figure out what it was about," said Mike Ybarra, general manager of Windows products at Microsoft.

"There was a lot of feature creep. You had people saying 'Let's change this and that.' Windows 7 has been very disciplined."

Windows 7 will streamline everyday tasks, cut boot-up times, extend battery life and make it simple to weave "smart" devices into home networks, according to Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer.

Ballmer said that the Windows software at the heart of Microsoft's empire is being "transformed" into a program that connects networks of computers, mobile telephones and applications hosted as online services.

Sport - Cricket;Warne warns opponents to be wary of dangerous backlash from wounded Pietersen

Melbourne, Jan 9 (ANI): Kevin Pietersen's good friend and former Hampshire teammate Shane Warne has warned that Pietersen would be an even more dangerous and committed player now that he has relinquished the England captaincy.

Pietersen resigned from his leadership duties on Wednesday after a bitter feud with coach Peter Moores, who was sacked soon after Pietersen quit.

As Pietersen prepares to head to the West Indies as a rank-and-file player under new skipper Andrew Strauss, Warne said his controversial mate would become an even more threatening cricket animal.

"Kevin is a guy who likes the limelight, he likes to be the man. He's obviously got a pretty big ego as well, so that will be dented a bit. But he's also got the ability, no matter what's going on, to perform," Warne said.

"One thing is for sure. England needs Kevin Pietersen. He's their best player and one of the best players in the world and England needs him to perform.

"This situation will stir his emotions. He'll be bitterly disappointed at the lack of support from the England Cricket Board and I'm sure this will drive him to become an even stronger player. Come the Ashes, beware of Kevin Pietersen because he could lift his game to another level," he said.

Warne said that on a personal note he wished the situation had never occurred.

"As a friend of Kevin, I'm disappointed he's no longer captain of England. The thing with him he was only going to improve as he went, like every captain does." (ANI)

Tech - World's most expensive sewing machine with a price tag of $9k to come to UK

London, Jan 10 (ANI): The world's most expensive and high-tech sewing machine with an in-built video camera is set to hit the British market.

After taking the consumers by storm in America, Brother, the technology company, is set to launch the 9,000 dollars Quattro machine in British market.

The high-tech sewing machine has a tiny camera just above the needle and zooms in while sewing. It then displays the live picture on a screen on the main body of the machine.

According to the company, the camera helps to sew more accurately. It can sense the edge of the fabric more accurately than the naked eye, and can even programme the machine to sew a seam automatically.

"It's like your mother's Singer on steroids," the Telegraph quoted Michelle Gilmartin at the company as saying.

Brother insists that despite the economic downturn, there are plenty of people who wanted to invest in the machine.

"We were nervous when we introduced it, but we were shocked by how many orders we received," said Jane Mellinger, director of education at Brother.

"This is not for first-time sewers. But some people have realised they can use the machine to make some extra money by creating their own gifts or clothes," she added. (ANI)

Business - YouTube has helped people earn six-figure salaries

Washington, Jan 9 (ANI): Video sharing website YouTube has always been seen as a recreational site, but now it has been revealed that it has helped some people earn a six-figure salary off it.

Michael Buckley, 33, is one such person who says that he has been able to earn his six-figure through the site.

"Uh, I do well," CBS News quoted him as saying.

"I make over six figures a year," he said.

His high-energy, two-minute show "What the Buck," a play on his last name, is the product of a 2,000 dollars camera, a pair of work-lights and a 6 dollars backdrop. The show averages 200,000 hits an episode.

"I just wanted to create my own vehicle and I did," he stated.

Last year, YouTube invited its most popular, most-watched contributors to partner with them by adding banner ads to the bottom of video clips.

For every one thousand hits, advertisers pay 15 to 20 dollars. It's a fraction the cost of TV commercials, and they reach a more targeted audience.

Buckley's show ranks number eight on the Web site, and he believes that the Internet is the only way he could have made it big.

"I do believe so," Buckley said.

"I do believe that ... the Internet was my route to any sort of success," he added. (ANI)

Entertainment - 'Ghajini' outstrips DDLJ to become biggest domestic earner

New Delhi, Jan 10 (IANS) Aamir Khan starrer 'Ghajini', which released to packed houses Dec 25, is on its way to create history by taking over the mantle of the biggest domestic earner so far, leaving behind 'Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge'.

'Ghajini', a romantic action thriller that explores the life of a rich businessman who suffers from short-term memory loss following a violent incident, has earned Rs.2 billion ($41 million) in less than two weeks from its release.

The film has grossed Rs.1.62 billion in domestic markets and Rs.390 million have come from overseas markets till end of second week. The film is still running to packed houses and may cross more milestones.

'Ghajini', a film that introduced Asin to Hindi cinema opposite superstar Aamir, was released with 1,200 prints in the domestic market and in a lot of small towns where films are not often released in the first week.

In the overseas market, it is now second only to Karan Johar's hit film 'Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham' which collected Rs.440 million.

Health - Is There A Brain Tumor Virus?

Jeneen Interlandi

In 2002, UCSF neurosurgeon Charles Cobbs published a novel finding in a prominent cancer journal: nearly all of the two-dozen brain tumors he had analyzed were teeming with a common herpes virus called cytomegalovirus, or CMV. Normally, CMV is harmless—it lies dormant in roughly 80 percent of the population—but in Cobbs's tumor samples, the virus appeared to be actively replicating, even as it remained dormant in nearby healthy tissue. "When I first saw the data, I couldn't sleep for a week," says Cobbs. "I kept asking myself, 'can this be?'" If his findings were correct, they might shed light on the causes of brain cancer, or better yet, provide a new target for battling—maybe even preventing—the disease.

But by 2004, at least two labs had tried and failed to replicate Cobbs's results. That might have been the end of the story, were it not for the young neurosurgeon's audacity. Convinced that his methodology was better than his colleagues, he offered to show both research teams his technique. One group, led by Duke University neuro-oncologist Duane Mitchell, accepted. Last year they published the first peer-reviewed confirmation of Cobbs's work. "We have enough evidence now to say that this merits serious attention," says Mitchell. As the journal Science wrote last week, a flurry of papers exploring a possible link between CMV and brain cancer have caught the attention of at least some experts, spurring the first conference on the subject last October and touching off a handful of clinical trials.

The findings have opened a new avenue of inquiry for one of the most intractable cancers—Glioblastoma Multiforme, an aggressive brain tumor, diagnosed in 10,000 new patients every year and fatal in virtually all cases. (Sen. Ted Kennedy was stricken with the disease last year). The alleged link between CMV and brain cancer may also represent the latest reversal of a decades-old consensus that generally speaking, viruses don't cause cancer. While some scientists are urging caution in interpreting this growing body of evidence, others say that a bias against "cancer-virus" research highlights a major flaw in the way science works. Ideas that challenge the conventional wisdom are often shunned in favor of "safer" hypotheses that stand a better chance of gaining acceptance and securing research dollars. "The powers that be are really opposed to funding this kind of research," says Cobbs who is now at California Pacific Medical Center. "They would rather put their money on more discreet projects where the outcomes are clear."

To be fair, the history of cancer-virus research is littered with false starts and embarrassing missteps. In 1926, a Danish scientist scored a Nobel Prize for showing that parasitic worms cause stomach cancer; it was later discovered that the "tumors" were actually lesions, triggered by vitamin deficiency. In the early 1970s scientists still believed that many if not most human cancers were triggered by some sort of infection. Famed HIV scientist Robert Gallo spent years at the National Cancer Institute trolling for the viral culprit, but most of his studies were never replicated and by the end of the decade, the hypothesis had been abandoned. "You have to tread carefully with findings like these," says Robert Weinberg, a biology professor and cancer researcher at MIT. "The majority of these claims tend to go up in smoke."

Today we know that at least three cancers are virus-induced: cervical cancer (Human Papiloma Virus, or HPV), liver cancer (Hepatitis B), and lymphoma (Epstein-Barr virus). But many questions still need answers before scientists can add brain cancer and CMV to that list. Chief among them is whether the virus actually triggers tumor growth. Cobbs thinks this may be the case, but he says the virus's influence is probably indirect. "It's not like a typical virus—disease relationship," he says. "The cancer may stem from chronic inflammation that is triggered by the virus and persists for years and years." If he's right, scientists may one day be able to develop a vaccine that prevents brain cancer by targeting CMV, much like Merck's Gardasil protects against cervical cancer by inoculating against certain strains of HPV.

Other researchers hypothesize that rather than induce tumor formation, CMV might simply abet their growth. Studies have shown that the virus promotes angiogenesis—the creation of an extra blood supply that tumors need to survive and grow.

Even if CMV doesn't cause brain tumors, the virus promises to be a useful target for future glioblastoma therapies. Mitchell's team is testing a vaccine made from immune cells that have been trained to attack CMV proteins. While the trial is too small to be conclusive, the vaccine, which enhanced immune responses against CMV, did extend patients' median survival time from 15 to more than 20 months. Meanwhile, Swedish researchers have just completed a clinical trial of the anti-CMV medication Valcyte to see if it can prevent the recurrence of brain tumors that have been surgically removed. The data is being tabulated now; if it looks good, Roche may eventually launch a large-scale study.

To make real progress, however, scientists will need funding. Cobbs says that he has had a dozen or so grant proposals on CMV-glioblastoma research rejected by the National Cancer Institute and other funding agencies. "People from NCI have said that we need to prove CMV causes brain cancer before they fund us," says Cobbs. "It's putting the cart before the horse."

World - As Hamas fights,Fatah mulls its next move

Kevin Peraino

As Hamas fighters dig in against advancing Israeli troops in Gaza, the Islamists' security services are quietly working to prevent any uprising by forces loyal to moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Tens of thousands of security personnel belonging to Abbas's Fatah party still operate in the Gaza Strip, even after Hamas seized control of the strip in June 2007. The Fatah men collect their salaries, gather intelligence and occasionally organize protests in order tomaintain pressure onthe Islamists. While Abbas has condemned the Israeli assault as a "massacre," he has also accused Hamas of breaking its ceasefire with Israel by firing rockets across the Gaza border.

Several sources close to the Fatah-loyal Palestinian intelligence services, who asked not to be named discussing sensitive matters, told NEWSWEEK that shortly after the Israeli bombing began last week, Hamas operatives fanned out across Gaza and delivered notices to key figures loyal to Abbas. The Fatah men were ordered to report within days to the Hamas security headquarters, register with the Islamists, and in some cases turn in their guns. In one instance, according to a source in Gaza, a Fatah operative was warned that he would be executed if he set foot anywhere near Hamas forces during the Israeli siege. According to Tawfiq Tirawi, a former Palestinian intel chief and current adviser to Abbas, some 1,000 Fatah operatives were put under house arrest last week by Hamas forces.

The Hamas men have good reason for concern. For the time being, most secular Palestinians have expressed their solidarity with the Islamists. Yet at least some key Fatah figures see the Israeli attack as an opportunity. As the ground war has intensified, many Palestinians have begun to wonder whether Israel's ultimate aim is to topple Hamas, not simply weaken the group. Even if the Israeli military doesn't manage to crush Hamas, any power vacuum could tempt Fatah men to renew the internecine fighting that has killed dozens of Gazans over the past three years. Still, few Palestinian figureswould risk looking like Israeli collaborators while the bombs are still falling. "I can't just take my men and go," says one Fatah security chief, who requested anonymity in order to speak frankly. "No Palestinian security agency would go into Gaza on an Israeli tank."

Even if they wanted to, it's far from clear that Abbas's forces could wrest control of the strip. The Fatah boss says his counterparts in Gaza are demoralized and ineffective: "Our men are running for their lives." After the fighting started, Fatah men in Ramallah set up an ad hoc"operations room" where Palestinian Authority officers closely monitored the situation in Gaza, trying to make sense of the conflicting reports. With cell-phone networks constantly crashing, it was nearly impossible. The Fatah menreached out to their Americanallies looking for better information, butthe Americans seemed equally clueless. At the end of the day, "Nobody knew anything," says the Fatahsecurity chief.

American officials have invested considerable time and effort helping to train Abbas's security services. Still, only a small minority of those troops are native Gazans; most are from the West Bank. And any new internecine fighting in Gaza could undermine American ambitions for delivering a two-state solution. Many sensible observers believe no such deal is possible unless the feuding Palestinian factions find some way to reconcile first.

For now, most Fatah figures are hoping that some sort of international peacekeeping force will move into Gaza after Israel pulls out. Such a move could pave the way for Fatah security forces to return to power some months down the road, the thinking goes, when they would look less like Israeli stooges. Col. Akram Rajoub, the head of Abbas's Preventive Security force in Ramallah, says pacifying Gaza would require "thousands" of international troops—"Europeans, Turks, Arabs—even NATO forces." Yet those ambitious plans are almost certainly wishful thinking on the part of Abbas's men. Some of the ceasefire proposals being floated do call for outsidepeacekeepers, but the plans seem to be limited in scope, confining the role of international forces to border crossings and other sensitive locations.

Finally, all the speculation among Fatah figures makes one critical—and perhaps mistaken—assumption: that the fighting with Israel is actually weakening Hamas. Hizbullah, after all, came out much stronger after its 2006 war with Israel; it won simply by not losing. Some Palestinians feel that Hamas is already winning a similar battle for Palestinian public opinion. "Hamas is not going to be eradicated," says Mohammad al-Masri, a former director of intelligence in Gaza who is loyal to Abbas. "I don't think one decent Palestinian wants to see Hamas finished off. This operation might weaken the military power of Hamas. But I'm convinced that these battles will ultimately empower them. Hamas will come out stronger on the ground than before."

World - Israel's Arabs are the answer

Daniel Gavron

Last week's massive Israeli reprisals against Hamas in Gaza, which followed the breakdown of a five-month truce, have made peace between Israel and the Palestinians seem more remote than ever. Yet the fighting also dramatized just how important it is to resolve the conflict once and for all. And the opportunity is running out: in a month, Israel will hold an election, and unless the Gaza fighting changes things dramatically, the winner will likely be a right-wing government led by the Likud's Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu. Such a government will be unwilling to ever make the compromises necessary to achieve a two-state settlement. That means that the prospect of peace will recede still further. The only way to prevent this outcome is to quickly change the rules of Israel's political game. And the way to do that is by ending the exclusion of Israel's own Arab population from government.

Consider: for almost four decades, Israel's political establishment has been deadlocked over peace with the Palestinians. The country's Jewish voters are basically split in half on the question. Yet Israel could break this stalemate by fully enfranchising its Arabs, who make up about 14 percent of voters. These citizens have full rights under Israeli law but have long felt like second-class citizens, and their political parties, though allowed in the Knesset, have been barred by tradition from joining coalition governments.

David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, set the precedent for this exclusion when he declared that his and successive administrations should be formed "without Herut or the communists." Herut was the right-wing party then led by his conservative rival, Menachem Begin, and that prohibition was abandoned by 1967.

But the ban on communists has lasted, for one main reason: because most party members also happen to be Arabs. Over the years, other Arab parties have managed to find their way into the Knesset, but they have never been invited to join an Israeli government. Arabs have served in the cabinet, but only if they were members of Zionist (Jewish) parties. On a few occasions, Arab parties have formed temporary blocking coalitions with Zionists, but the Arabs were never allowed close to the center of power.

Israel's Declaration of Independence guarantees all citizens equality, regardless of religion or ethnicity. Yet in many fields this principle has never been honored. The 2007 Equality Index published by Sikkuy, an NGO that works for equality between Israel's Arabs and Jews, shows that the life expectancy of Arabs is four years shorter than that of Jews, and that while the state invests about $130 per person per month for basic welfare for Jewish citizens, the figure is just $85 for Arab citizens. Such discrimination must end and the promise of Israel's founding document must be fulfilled—if not for moral reasons, then for a practical one. Israel will never find peace otherwise.

In February the pro-peace, centrist Kadima Party led by Tzipi Livni will face off with, and probably be defeated by, a combination of hawkish and religious parties led by Netanyahu. Should he become prime minister once more, there will be no meaningful negotiations with the Palestinians. Construction of the security fence and the expansion of Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories will continue, as will the extension of a massive infrastructure of roads, water pipes, power lines and military installations that will make the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state physically impossible.

Bibi's coalition is likely to win 60 seats in the Knesset, versus Livni's 50. But Israel's Arabs could shift the balance decisively. In recent years they've tended to avoid national elections out of a sense of impotence. Were they convinced that their votes mattered, however, they could—like young Obama supporters in America—turn out in record numbers and win as many as 17 seats in Parliament, turning the tide for the center-left.

For that to happen, the Israeli peace camp must declare in advance its willingness to ally with Arab parties. Such an Arab-Jewish coalition would also have a galvanizing effect on Israel's population and help address years of discrimination. Israeli Arabs are feeling bitter about the Gaza attacks, but one of their own was the second victim of Hamas rocket fire in the first days of the fighting, which should make it easier to emphasize that they are an integral part of Israeli society.

Some Israelis fear that partnering with Arabs would somehow put the Zionist enterprise at risk. That notion is absurd. The state of Israel is powerful and dynamic. Gaza has reminded everyone how powerful Israel's military still is. Meanwhile, the economy is solid, thanks to an extraordinary high-tech sector. Israeli society is robust, with an enormously vital religious life and a flourishing arts culture. The state, in other words, is a going concern.

Yet as Gaza has once more reminded us, we Israeli Jews will not be able to reach peace with our neighbors on our own. We need the help of our fellow Arab citizens. Inviting them into a full and equal partnership would be the ultimate triumph of Zionism. In the age of Obama, the time has come to repudiate our old phobias and prejudices and move forward to a better future for our children and grandchildren.

Gavron is the author, most recently, of "Holy Land Mosaic."

Business - Rise of Chinese Banks

Dan Weil

The global economic contagion has spread to China, sending shudders around the world. Chinese leaders are worried about domestic social unrest, while U.S. leaders are worried about whether China will continue loading up on Treasury securities as our budget deficit explodes.

Yet one of the few bright spots is the surprising strength of China's banking system. Remember when that system seemed on the verge of collapse? That's where the banks stood until the reforms of the past 10 years.

But now the picture is completely different. As former World Bank official Pieter Bottelier, now a professor at Johns Hopkins, notes, "The irony is that 10 years ago, China's banks were among the weakest in the world and today they are among the strongest, however primitive their system."

How did they turn things around?

The short answer is that the Chinese government imposed many of the same market-based principles used in the West. (We'll get to why they seem to work better in China in a minute.) Officials improved regulations and supervision, introducing risk capital requirements and tightening nonperforming loan criteria and provision standards.

The government allowed banks to be listed on stock exchanges, which meant they had to report their earnings according to Western accounting standards. Now two of the world's three biggest banks by market capitalization are Chinese: Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, which is the biggest, and China Construction Bank, No. 3.

Beginning in 1998, the government recapitalized them. Several years later, the government used approximately $60 billion of its massive foreign currency reserves to help finish the job. And banks were able to dump their bad loans onto state entities created for the purpose of holding the waste, while the banks received safe Finance Ministry bonds in exchange. Income from these restructured assets accounted for 60 percent of ICBC's profit in 2006
Under China's old risk-weighting system, the banks were able to declare that loans to state-owned companies carried zero risk. That allowed the banks to have huge balance sheets with virtually no capital. No more. As of Sept. 30, the average capital adequacy ratio for all of China's publicly traded banks totaled about 13 percent, well above the government's required standard of 8 percent.

The treatment of nonperforming loans has changed drastically as well. In the old days, such bad loans were simply rolled over, with skipped payments being capitalized into the loans. Then the government decreed that interest payments on a loan had to be received within 90 days for it to avoid being classified as nonperforming. Initially, the amount of nonperforming loans rose, but as of Sept. 30, 2008, nonperforming loans totaled only 2 percent of the loan total for the country's listed banks. That compares with 2.3 percent for FDIC-insured banks in the United States.

The provision system, which is how banks account for loans that may go bad, has changed, too. Before the reforms of the past decade, banks didn't have to create provisions for bad loans, regardless of the quality of their loan portfolios. Now provisions are substantial. As of Sept. 30, provisions for loan losses among the listed banks amounted to an impressive 123 percent of their nonperforming loans.

In 2003, Chinese regulators let foreign investors increase their stakes in Chinese banks from 15 percent to 20 percent. That ruling gave the banks more capital and credibility, paving the way for their initial public offerings beginning in 2005.

It also gave the Chinese institutions access to Western management expertise, though fortunately for the Chinese, they didn't match their Western brethren's excessive risk-taking.

And that's still paying off: China's publicly traded banks registered a 53 percent increase in net income in the third quarter of 2008 from the same period in 2007.

And perhaps most importantly, Chinese banks skipped the subprime party. They will, at most, have to write off 0.1 percent of their assets as a result of owning toxic U.S. securities, estimates Nicholas Lardy, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics
But the global recession puts some of that progress at risk. China's explosive double-digit economic growth in recent years, powered by its potent export machine, made it easy for banks to glitter. The rapid slowdown of China's economy represents the biggest problem. China's economy expanded at an explosive 11.4 percent rate last year. Experts estimate that pace will soon slip to 5 percent to 8 percent. While such a figure would represent nirvana for the United States now, the three- to six-percentage-point decline is similar in magnitude to what the U.S. is going through. Double-digit growth in China sent corporate profits soaring. Pretax profits totaled 11 percent of GDP last year, up from 4 percent in 2001.

"You have to be a pretty bad lending officer to find someone who's not credit-worthy in that scenario," Lardy says. "Now the economy has slowed, and profits will go negative very soon. Then we will learn more about the quality of loans."

As for the financial crisis that began in the West, it hasn't hurt China directly. But the resulting global recession has crimped demand for Chinese exports. And exports constitute a key component of China's economy. In addition, the government has protected banks by capping deposit rates and cutting bank taxes. That allows banks to cover up some deficiencies.

So Chinese banks are vulnerable. Nonperforming loans will surely increase. Still, a crisis is unlikely. The government has many weapons to fight the economy's deceleration—witness the recent announcement of a $585 billion fiscal stimulus plan. And the banks are much better equipped to handle loan losses now than they were years ago.

Business - Time Warner's Red Ink

Gabriel Sherman

When Time Warner's veteran publishing unit began laying off employees in large numbers in 2005, it allowed the company to clear out several floors of space at the storied Time-Life headquarters on Manhattan's Sixth Avenue. Prudent managers came up with a great solution: lease the space out to a no-brainer, blue-chip tenant with its own overflowing headquarters nearby.

This morning, Time Warner announced that it will need to take a charge against earnings of between $50 million and $60 million for the "restructuring of a lease for space in the Time & Life building held by a lessee who recently declared bankruptcy." That unnamed tenant? Lehman Bros.

You can almost hear Time Warner management saying, "It seemed like a good idea at the time."

The trouble is, that's what Time Warner management has been saying about too many things for too long. The aborted Lehman lease is the least of the company's problems; it is also taking an "impairment charge" of some $25 billion, essentially arguing that its cable, publishing, and AOL businesses are not worth what the company was claiming they were worth as recently as November. The company also disclosed that lower advertising revenues at its publishing and AOL divisions would contribute to a 2008 loss and that it would be increasing its reserves by $40 million to protect itself against cash-strapped cable customers who fail to make their payments.

What is so shocking about Time Warner's fourth-quarter loss is that it's being presented to the market as a shock. It's been eight years since the failed marriage of AOL and Time Warner, and despite repeated efforts at therapy, the union is still broken. None of these problems are new. In fact, the current crisis at Time Warner was set in motion years ago.

When Dick Parsons handed the reins to current Chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes last January, there was wide speculation in Manhattan media circles that the detail-focused Bewkes would (finally!) wrangle Time Warner into a media company that makes sense and perhaps deliver the vaunted "synergies" promised so many times in the past by management. The first step for Bewkes was to spin off the cable unit to get Wall Street to look at the company as something other than a utility. Granted, cable stocks had something of a renaissance in the 2006-07 time frame as broadband expanded and triple-play came into its own. But, again, having made the decision to spin off the cable business, why did Time Warner leave themselves holding 83 percent of the bag while Time Warner Cable's stock lost a huge chunk of its value?

Still, by spinning off the cable unit, the thinking went, Bewkes would fashion Time Warner into a pure-play content provider comprised of its Time Inc. publishing arm, AOL, and its movie and television studios. The streamlined revenue model would be a mix of subscription and advertising that Wall Street could understand. But going the content route still didn't address the fact that the media business remains deeply troubled as digital forces continue to erode consumers' willingness to pay for magazines, movies, and generally all forms of entertainment. It's becoming increasingly harder and harder to make a business out of producing and selling content. And yet that's the business Time Warner has now doubled down on.

Take Time Inc., the publisher of Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune, and People, among other titles. The division continues to be battered by the decline of print advertising and the unimpeded migration of readers to the Web. The cratering of the U.S. auto industry has been particularly painful to Time Inc., as automakers have slashed ad spending in unison. But despite the recent economic meltdown, these forces were set in motion years ago. Time Inc. CEO Ann Moore was a late convert to the Web. In 2005, the company finally adopted a strategy to focus on its core magazine brands and build robust Web sites around them. But with revenue of $5 billion, it's unclear if Time Inc. could ever scale a Web business to the point where it could sustain a well-staffed enterprise of writers and editors producing professional content.

And how can anyone be surprised that AOL is worth less than the company was saying? Google's investment in it implies a $20 billion valuation, which is obviously absurd. But, more importantly, AOL has been an obvious, stinking albatross for years. They even took AOL out of the company's name a couple of years back. Why were Parsons and company so reluctant to pull the trigger on this?

There have been some bright spots in the past year. Warner Bros.' The Dark Knight earned more than $500 million at the domestic box office, and the epic presidential election pushed CNN ratings to new records. But amid the deepest economic recession in 70 years, Time Warner can't delay confronting the reckoning that faces the media business. It is a company where it's very easy to see where the blood is flowing. But for whatever reason, it can't find the bandages or the scalpel. For an unpleasant reminder of one possible future outcome, Time Warner executives need only to look at the empty space in the Time-Life building.

Health - What we lie to Doctors about and why it matters

Joan Raymond

There are big lies. And little lies. And somewhere in between there are the lies we tell our doctors. Even back in the day, Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, knew that those pesky Greek patients might tell a fib or two. To find out if they were stretching the truth, Hippocrates measured their pulse rates.

Janie Hoffman's doctor didn't have to do that. During a routine visit, Hoffman's doctor asked her if she was still smoking. Hoffman said, "No, I quit." Her doctor then looked at her and said: "I guess that pack sticking out of your purse is for a friend." Still looking for an out, Hoffman replied: "How did that get there?" It would have been smarter for Hoffman to suffer the embarrassment and 'fess up. It may be painful, but telling your doctor about your questionable health habits like eating vats of junk food, or talking about socially risky behaviors like overindulging in alcohol, illegal drugs or unprotected sex, could save your life.

That's not always obvious to patients who sometimes feel that telling a fib, or omitting information, can be less angst-inducing than listening to a diatribe about the dangers of certain lifestyle choices. "I'm not stupid and everyone knows that smoking is bad, but who wants to hear a lecture?" says Hoffman, a Los Angeles marketing executive who kicked the habit (honestly) not long after that visit and has been tobacco-free for more than five years. Apparently, not too many of us. According to survey done by WebMD, Hoffman is among the 13 percent of 1,500 respondents who actually admitted they lied to their docs. Thirty-two percent only admitted they "stretched the truth," which is a lie by any other name.Our lies cover the gamut. Nearly 40 percent of folks lied about following a doctor's treatment plan, and more than 30 percent lied about their diet and exercise regimens. Folks were also not truthful about smoking, risky sex, alcohol intake, recreational drug use, taking medications as prescribed, second opinions, and the use of alternative therapies and supplements, among other things.

Not telling your doctor about all the health products you're taking, even if they seem innocuous, can be particularly risky. A study that appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association in December shows that about one in 25 adults between the ages of 57-85 are putting themselves at risk for major drug interactions when mixing prescription drugs, such as a commonly prescribed blood thinner, with over-the-counters like aspirin, vitamins and supplements, such as the popular ginkgo biloba. "Patients have to come clean about the various things they put in their bodies," says Dr. David C. Thomas, associate professor of medicine, at New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "We ask questions for a reason."

Doctors believe that most patients don't walk into their offices intending to lie. But they know that fear of judgment, the desire to appear to be a good patient, a lack of understanding about why certain questions may be asked, and even insurance worries, often lead them down the path of duplicity.

And when it comes to fibs, doctors have heard it all. "The classic is that a lot of patients will underestimate the number of sexual partners they've had," says Dr. Deborah Lindner, an OB/GYN at Northwestern Memorial's Prentice Women's Hospital in Chicago. She concedes that "after a certain number" that particular lie doesn't "really matter that much," but women who deceive themselves and don't practice safe sex, for example, run the risk of sexually transmitted diseases not to mention problems with fertility. "No one wants to admit to risky sex, or having multiple partners, or smoking, or drinking too much," says Lindner. "But people must understand we ask these questions not because we are judging someone, but to keep them healthy."

These little lies can have consequences from not giving your physician the tools to work with you in preventing disease to sometimes unnecessary testing or changes in medications. If, for example, you tell you doctor you are taking your medications as prescribed, but you aren't, and your blood pressure is still off the charts, that can lead to increased dosing or changes in medications. Or if you continue to gain weight, despite swearing that you are dieting and exercising, doctors "are going to have to look for a cause," says Mount Sinai's Thomas. "That means increased costs and a lot of wasted time. All you have to do is tell us what is going on."Don Martelli of Revere, Mass. hopes he keeps his blood pressure in check and his weight under control. Martelli is a self-described "big guy on a diet." "I like to say I'm on the see food diet; I see food and I eat it," says Martelli, 35, who is 6 feet 2 inches tall and at one time tipped the scales at about 280 pounds. Martelli had borderline high blood pressure and was told to diet and exercise. He admits to telling the little white lies about his lifestyle when he wasn't losing weight. But he was always uneasy. "I thought that maybe my doctor would think I had some weird thyroid thing going on and I would have to get tests," he says. "But I was too embarrassed to say I was face first in a pasta bowl when everyone on the planet is exercising and sipping bottled water."Fortunately, Martelli got a reprieve. At his last check-up, he did drop some pounds and his blood pressure was normal. "I think my doctor knew I was fibbing about some stuff," Martelli says. "But at least he worked with me."

And now technology may make it easier for them to learn the truth. The Cleveland Clinic, along with Microsoft HealthVault, started a pilot program in November with some 400 patients who had heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes that may keep folks from fibbing—and allow doctors to intervene earlier when blood pressure, blood glucose or weight get out of control. Rather than keeping a log with pad and paper, patients use computer-aided home monitoring equipment to take daily blood pressure, glucose and weight readings that are then transmitted right to their doctor, making it a little harder to fudge the numbers.

Even without computer monitoring, most doctors probably do know when patients are fibbing about common vices. After all, there is that old medical saw that doctors multiply things by two or three. So if you say you have a drink a day, there's a good chance your doctor is already upping the count. But as savvy as a physician might be, a wink and a nod isn't the best way to go about getting good care. "It's really not about [the doctor] building in multipliers or stigmatizing issues, rather you should be able to trust your doctor enough to tell him anything," says Dr. Robert Arnold, director of the Institute for Doctor-Patient Communication at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

All that honesty takes motivation by the doctor and the patient. For cardiologist Dr. Kim Eagle, motivating his patients to stay on the straight and narrow certainly includes those honest chats about lifestyle and good health. But if good health isn't enough of a reward there's always money. "I'll give my patients a nickel, a buck, if they lose weight," says Eagle, who then tells patients to tape the money to the refrigerator. "People love it. It's a game and it gets conversations going about how we can work together." And Eagle says, those conversations can reveal a lot more about a patient's health than a simple yes or no answer. "If you actually take the time to talk you might find out the reason a patient isn't exercising is because his back hurts, or the reason a patient isn't eating fruits is because she can't afford them," says Eagle, a professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan Health System.Finding time to talk can be tough. It's no secret that the economics of medicine has chipped away at the art of medicine as doctors struggle with the realities of a reimbursement system that demands they see more patients."There's good data that doctors don't do a good job of listening, sometimes cutting off patients within 20 seconds of their opening line," says pulmonologist Dr. Jeff Rabatin of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Maine. Rabatin, who has codirected communication skills workshops and has written about the subject, says that doctors can learn how to effectively talk to their patients. But patients have to get with the program, too. "Try to tell your doctor the whole story," Rabatin suggests. And remember, it could be "tough for a doctor to lose weight, too."

The first step in trying to be a more honest patient is finding a doctor that you are comfortable with. And remember that nothing will surprise your doc, including tales about cosmo-bingeing, pot-smoking weekends. "We aren't here to render moral judgments," says cardiologist Dr. Amy Tucker, associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Virginia Health System. "So the half-truths really aren't necessary."Terry Buchen, a golf agronomist from Williamsburg, Va., doesn't lie to his doctor. He plies him with golf balls and golf instructional videos. Buchen is on the road about 200 days a year, flying across the globe to help with turf issues at some of the world's most famous golf courses. He has a tough time with diet and exercise when he's on the road. But he and his primary-care physician, whom he has been seeing for more than 10 years, have developed a good relationship. "When my doctor asks me how he can help me reach my goals, that means a lot," Buchen says. "It makes me feel that I can admit when I fall off the food-and-exercise wagon."But Buchen isn't a saint. He has a told a few whoppers in the dental chair. "I really don't floss as much as I say," he admits. Trust me, Mr. Buchen, your dentist has already figured that out.

Business - Murdoch revitalizes the WSJ

Johnnie L Roberts

Andrew Leckey, an inveterate reader of newspapers, recently grabbed a copy of The New York Times as he dashed from his office at Arizona State. As director of the university's Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, his mission is to improve the quality of financial reporting. So you'd think he'd recognize his publications on sight. But he soon discovered, when he opened the paper, that he didn't have his Times with him. "I had walked out with The Wall Street Journal," he says. Just a year ago, that would've been unthinkable: the austere Journal with small headlines and no photos; the Times with a variety of display type and color images. "The Journal has been pushed to look like The New York Times," Leckey says. "There's this willingness to focus on banner headlines, and even the use of color photos." And nearly gone from the 119-year-old Journal are the iconic dot portraits of newsmakers.

That's not all that has changed since Rupert Murdoch took over a year ago. After his News Corp.'s $5 billion acquisition of the Journal's parent, Dow Jones, Murdoch has jettisoned longstanding traditions of the paper. Operating through his editor in chief, Robert Thomson—a worldly, unsentimental Aussie—Murdoch has transformed one of the world's most specialized publications into a more general, fuller account of the news beyond the business world, especially in politics and international affairs. By expanding the Journal's bull's-eye, Murdoch is fulfilling a pledge to compete head-to-head with The New York Times—for readers and for advertisers. It's an evolution that's been showcased by the Journal's coverage of the confluence of a historic presidential election and a national economic meltdown.

Murdoch's new regime has accelerated other changes, relaunching the Journal's Web site and implementing a possibly historic restructuring of Dow Jones's entire news-gathering operation, including its news wires and WSJ.com. At a time when other print media (including the Times) are cutting back—reducing staff, eliminating sections and warning there's more to come—Murdoch's commitment to growth and investment are a dramatic counterpoint. Whatever else one may think of the 77-year-old's splashy journalistic sensibilities—and there are plenty of traditionalists who don't love the new Journal—few in the media business aren't impressed that Murdoch is at least trying to revitalize and extend an old-media brand. "The New York Times has been regarded as the best newspaper in the world," says Dow Jones CEO Leslie Hinton, a veteran Murdoch executive. "That's a reputation we don't believe is deserved. We're now a real alternative."

So far, the results are mixed, susceptible to different interpretations and haven't immunized parent News Corp. from the pounding that all media stocks are absorbing this year. The Journal is drawing more readers and advertisers, including coveted luxury brands. Newsstand sales have soared by more than 20 percent since the economic crisis. Dow Jones is looking to add color capacity, according to a company publishing executive who isn't authorized to discuss the subject. WSJ.com now draws more than 20 million unique visitors per month, and enjoys the enviable distinction of a dual stream of revenues from subscribers and advertisers. But it's unclear whether the growing print and online audiences are directly linked to Murdoch's overhaul. Maybe it's just inherent reader interest in two galvanizing news stories. In any case, the Journal's popularity has yet to boost overall profitability at Dow Jones. In its latest fiscal quarter ended Sept. 30, News Corp. blamed Dow Jones for a $4 million reduction in pretax profits of its global newspaper and information segment.

Still, as a result of the Journal's industry-defying growth and News Corp.'s investments, Murdoch finds himself basking in changing sentiment. The Journal newsroom has embraced him as a savior. That was unimaginable in 2007 during the tumultuous eight months between Murdoch's initial offer and the final acquisition—a corporate drama that dominated the financial press. The takeover battle pitted the world's most powerful media mogul and the Bancroft family, a dysfunctional clan that controlled Dow Jones for more than a century.

Fearing the worst from the individual long regarded by the media establishment as a barbarian within its midst, some Journal reporters desperately, and fruitlessly, sought a white knight. But they now see "he's not burning, pillaging and firing" like the industry's other top publishers, including the Times, says a former top editor. "Everything Rupert said he wanted to do, he's trying to do." Nor is there any evidence he's interfered editorially based on any political predilections or business agendas, as many journalists feared when he approached the Bancrofts.

Even so, converts remain nervous. Murdoch may have assured the Journal's survival—but to what end? Journal veterans, for example, had feared all along the loss of the newspaper's distinctiveness, given Murdoch's goal to go beyond business coverage. Those worries will be buttressed by reactions like Leckey's. Those in the newsroom bemoan the slow disappearance of perhaps the newspaper's most revered contribution to journalism—the page-one "leder," the long explanatory pieces on either the left or right side of the pre-Murdoch Journal.

The Australian-born Thomson, 47, personifies the new Journal. He previously edited Murdoch's Times of London and the U.S. edition of the Financial Times. Thomson took over the Journal in May after the resignation of Marcus Brauchli, a Journal veteran whom Murdoch inherited with the transaction (and who is now editor of The Washington Post, whose parent company owns NEWSWEEK). Despite being a talented editor by all accounts, as well as an agent of change, Thomson remains an aloof presence to many in his anxious newsroom. The Murdoch regime "didn't come in with the view of winning approval," he says, "but one of clearly needing to change things."

Thomson's latest change, the appointment of a deputy editor, does little to assuage any unease. Bypassing Journal veterans and American journalists, he reached outside the publication last month to tap Gerard Baker, the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. editor of The Times of London. Officially, Baker, a Brit, will "spearhead" the Journal's "development as a national paper of influence and as an unrivaled international business-news franchise," Thomson said at the announcement. But the newsroom is buzzing about another of Thomson's alleged rationales. He supposedly told underlings that Baker will help infuse "fun" into the workplace, a capacity he apparently believes Journal editors lack. Baker, too, did Thomson a good turn during the Democratic convention in Denver in August. Thomson was stuck at a boring gathering of Journal staffers at a suburban pancake restaurant. Baker, at a party of top Obama operatives in downtown Denver, called his would-be boss and told him the operatives wanted to meet Thomson, who promptly fled the pancake affair. Thomson is unapologetic about his hires or his style. "I put pressure on people," he says. "That is my job—not to create a culture of complacency." But he hastens to add that there's been "a genuine enthusiasm and willingness to take a different direction into the future."

The personality drama aside, the evolving Journal—including its Web counterpart—is exhibit A of Murdoch's zeal for the viability of mass publications. In a recent lecture in Australia titled "The Future of Newspapers: Moving Beyond Dead Trees," he cited the transformed Journal in rebutting journalists who "seem to take a perverse pleasure in ruminating on their pending demise." He added, "The newspaper, or a very close electronic cousin, will always be around. It may not be thrown on your front doorstep the way it is today."

The Journal is larger than it was a year ago, having added four pages to accommodate expanded nonbusiness—primarily international—news. On top of that, there are two more pages of opinion and arts and cultural coverage. The Journal has relaunched its once renowned "Heard on the Street" column, and increased the staff of its Washington bureau. Average paid circulation totals slightly more than 2 million, with an additional 1 million electronic subscriptions. There's wide notice of the Journal's greater sense of urgency to break news, which has been essential during the economic crisis. Despite the concerns about the vanishing page-one feature stories, Murdoch hasn't abandoned lengthy investigative journalism.

Soft news has also become more prevalent. In a high-profile move, the Journal launched a glossy magazine, WSJ, in October. It hardly arrived smoothly. According to Journal insiders, a major feature on model Kate Moss and her business partner was pre-empted by a similar story in Vogue. Many subscribers—including the magazine's editor—never received the magazine in their weekend edition of the Journal. Many readers criticized WSJ as falling short of Journal standards. Thomson dismisses the objections. "The content is necessarily different [from] but not lesser than that of the main paper, and all of the copy went through the hands of senior Journal editors," he says. Madison Avenue embraced the magazine. The inaugural issue had more than 50 advertisers, including 19 who had never used the Journal.

Advertisers, of course, determine a publication's financial success. But they aren't a substitute for journalistic quality or distinctiveness. For generations, the Journal's stock in trade was business coverage, the characteristic Murdoch is now trying to submerge. In that audacious effort, admirably backed by capital and staffing, he runs the risk of making his creation indistinguishable from its rivals. The New York Times is one thing, but with flashy headlines, skinny models and color on the front page, does Murdoch really want Andrew Leckey mistaking the Journal for USA Today as he grabs a paper on the run?

Entertainment - Bad Guys on TV

Joshua Alston

In a recent episode of "The Office," clueless boss Michael Scott (Steve Carell) decides to dispatch his workplace nemesis by planting marijuana in the man's desk for the police to find. "Does seem awfully mean," Michael says in a fleeting moment of doubt. "But sometimes, the ends justify the mean." Michael's plan ultimately fails, mostly because the marijuana he thinks he's buying is a baggie filled with basil-heavy caprese salad. But as funny as the plot is, what's funnier is how much it resembles storylines on dramas such as "Dexter," "The Shield" and an upcoming episode of "Damages." By now, we've seen plenty of TV characters wield illegal substances to accomplish their objectives. For the trope to trickle down to a screwball comedy just goes to show that in television, there has never been a better time to be bad.

A year and a half ago, audiences were debating whether Tony lived or died during the coy blackout in the finale of "The Sopranos." It's pretty clear now that Tony —or at least the antihero archetype he created—lives just about everywhere on TV: Jack Bauer, the torture-happy federal agent of "24"; Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), the pinup-boy serial killer of "Dexter"; Don Draper (Jon Hamm), the two-faced ad exec of "Mad Men." What would Emmy voters do without them? These kinds of fully rendered characters—dark canvases streaked with some light—have changed the television landscape to the point where what we see on the small screen is, pound for pound, superior to what we see at the movies. But here's a really dark thought: has this so-called golden age gone too gray? In the quest to avoid the old black-and-white archetypes, has the pendulum swung too far toward morally ambiguous characters? Remember how shocked—and thrilled—we were when Tony strangled a mob turncoat in the middle of touring colleges with his daughter? Now no self-respecting TV protagonist would flinch at the prospect of shedding a little blood in the name of a greater good. What once seemed daring now feels predictable.

You could argue that the political climate of the past eight years primed audiences for antihero worship, that in the midst of a war started with faulty intelligence, suspected terrorists sent to black sites and a domestic eavesdropping program, it's no wonder we would be interested in delving deeply into the true motives underlying the actions of powerful people. People like Patty Hewes (Glenn Close) of FX's "Damages," an attorney who exacts litigious revenge on unethical corporations that hurt innocent people, no matter how unethically she has to behave or how many innocent people (or animals) she has to hurt to do it. Or people like Charles Barker (Patrick Swayze) of A&E's "The Beast," a shady FBI agent, unaware that his new partner is actually investigating his actions. And how about Nathan Ford (Timothy Hutton) of TNT's "Leverage," the leader of a group of criminals who help little guys settle scores with greedy corporations—the Robin Hoods of Wall Street? Ford says that "sometimes bad guys make the best good guys," but considering that all three of these shows premiere new episodes this month, it's starting to seem as if bad guys are the only good guys.

This is not the first case of Hollywood's "if it sells, make more" mentality, as dozens of flourishing "Survivor" knockoffs prove. But antihero shows are different in that they are inherently self-limiting. As any fan of "24," "Weeds" or "Dexter" can attest, at the end of each stake-raising season the viewer thinks, "That was interesting, but where can they possibly go from here?" During the last season of "24," after years of thrilling audiences by keeping the world on the precipice of terrorist horror, the writers chose to have a nuclear weapon actually detonate in a populated area. Narratively, the show has yet to recover. On the other hand, in the finale of "The Shield," Vic Mackey, once a hard-charging renegade detective, isn't dealt the violent death many thought he deserved and had coming. Instead, he's sentenced to what amounts to life imprisonment as a paper pusher, disconnected from his family, his friends or any connection to a real life. It was a pitch-perfect ending, accomplished by ratcheting down the extreme plotting rather than turning it up. "I think that was the key to the longevity of the show—not trying to say, 'Boy, we did all this outrageous stuff, what can we do that's more outrageous?' " said Shawn Ryan, the show's creator, at a screening of the finale. "I think the show became less outrageous over the years. I think if we had gone the other direction, I think we would have flamed out quicker." But as Jack Bauer can attest, not everyone shares Ryan's restraint.

The other narrative problem with antiheroes is not that they are flawed but that they are flawless. At least, they are infallible. Jack makes unconscionable decisions at every turn, but he's never, ever wrong. In the season-seven premiere, he faces off against Sen. Blaine Meyer (Kurtwood Smith) during a hearing by a committee examining his actions. "For a combat soldier, the difference between success and failure is the ability to adapt to your enemy," Jack tells the senator. "The people I deal with, they don't care about your rules. All they care about is results." Jack, of course, gets them every single time. The misanthropic doctor of "House" might offend you, but he'll succeed in coming up with some obscure diagnosis that has eluded everyone else. Dexter kills only criminals who have escaped justice, and he does meticulous research to make sure the person is guilty before he does the deed. Traditional hero characters are usually right, too, especially on episodic, self contained shows, but their infallibility isn't a crucial component of the character's success. If the detectives on "Law & Order" arrest the wrong guy initially, as they so often do, at least their cause was noble. Dexter doesn't get to accidentally kill an innocent, nor does Jack get to torture someone to flesh out a faulty hunch. Antiheroes don't get the luxury of being wrong, and audiences are robbed of the opportunity to watch these characters deal with the consequences of their mistakes.

First the dotcom bubble, then the housing bubble and soon the antihero bubble. As these characters are transformed from innovative to imitative, viewers will inevitably tire of them, if they haven't already. For all the hype around "Mad Men" and "Damages," they are still watched by a fraction of the audience that turned out for "The Sopranos." But that doesn't mean that this chapter of great television is coming to a close. What TV needs now, in these uncertain times, is dramatic characters like those of Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick ("Once and Again," "thirtysomething") or on "Brothers and Sisters"—characters who aren't trying to save the world or plunder it, but are just trying to subsist in it. After all, aren't the times we're living in dramatic enough?

Columnists - Fareed Zakaria;Writing the Rules for a New World

If you want to know what the post-American world will look like, just reread the coverage of the November G20 summit in Washington, D.C. First, there was the event itself. Every prior financial crisis had been handled by the IMF, the World Bank or the G7 (and, later, the G8). But this time, the big boys realized they couldn't tackle the problems alone and had to bring in world's top emerging markets too. For an effective response in a highly connected global economy, all the world's major players needed to participate. To supply cash, countries like China and Saudi Arabia were crucial. As for legitimacy, the old Western clubs were archaic, relics of a bygone world and could no longer provide it on their own.

Of course, not everything has changed. The meeting was still held in Washington, and President George W. Bush got to play the major role in setting the agenda. America has vital relations with key countries like China, Japan and Saudi Arabia, as well as good ties to old allies like Britain, France and Germany. And it seemed entirely possible that this larger and more representative group of nations could actually do some of the policy coordination needed to begin to solve the crisis. So it's a new world, but not necessarily one from which America has been ousted, nor one where common actions are impossible.

Historians will probably look back on the meltdown and see it as one largely caused by success. I realize it seems odd to say that of events characterized by panic, a credit crunch, slowing growth and falling stock markets. But consider the conditions that created this state of affairs. Over the past two decades, the world had enjoyed political stability, low inflation and a massive expansion of the global economy by almost 3 billion people. Countries around the planet grew at unheard-of levels—124 of them expanded at 4 percent or more in 2006 and 2007. Wars, civil conflicts and terrorism caused less political turmoil than they had in decades—or, by some measures, in centuries.

All this produced a new set of problems. As some countries grew in strength and resources they became more assertive and nationalistic. The emergence of Iran, Venezuela and a revived Russia is in good measure a product of the price of petroleum. So is Islamic jihad. Fueled by vast amounts of money, Wahhabi ideas found their way into almost all Muslim countries, shifting the tone of Islam everywhere and giving resources to radicalized young men.

In the world of economics, prosperity and low inflation unleashed two massive forces. The first was cheap credit, and the second, vast new pools of capital. Surplus savings piled up in the emerging economies of Asia (and then in the oil-producing countries of the Middle East) on a scale never before seen in history. Add to these two new forces two old ones—greed and stupidity—and you begin to understand how it all came apart.

At one level, the problem is that the United States and some other Western economies consumed too much—much more than they produced—and made up the difference by borrowing. But if America overspent, Asia oversaved. All those savings—some $10 trillion—had to go somewhere, and for two decades most of it was funneled back into the United States, which was seen, with some justification, as the safest and best place to invest. This led to easy credit and multiple bubbles in the United States—in technology stocks, bonds, real estate.

As bad as it looks, the current financial crisis will end. I don't know when or how, but the combination of government interventions will eventually work. Why do I say this? Because governments are more powerful than markets. They can close markets down, nationalize firms and write new rules. And Washington has one other, unique power: it can print money.

Government intervention has stabilized capitalism before. No modern society could accept the downswings that were routine in the 19th century, an era of much less intervention. The average length of a recession between 1854 and 1919 was 22 months. In the past two decades, by contrast, recessions have averaged eight months. Between 1854 and 1999, the U.S. economy went into a contraction every 49 months. In the past two decades, it has been 100 months between contractions. Many factors have contributed to these changes, but the chief explanation has been Washington's monetary and fiscal policies. Of course, the financial industry—the center of the current crisis—is unusual if not unique, since it is the lifeblood of the economy. As a result, it should be monitored especially carefully. In almost all the financial crises of the past 30 years (and there have been dozens of them) the government has had to intervene to restore trust and confidence. And it's succeeded.

Does this round of intervention mark a return to socialism, or even the old mixed economy? Well, 35 years ago governments in most countries controlled the value of their national currencies. They owned steel companies, car manufacturers, the telephone company and banks. They set the price of airline tickets, phone calls, stock commissions and cement. Tariffs in the industrialized world were several times higher than they are today. Does anyone really think we're returning to this era? Does anyone believe that governments would be any better at owning and running economies than they were in the past? There will be a return of regulation. But regulation is not socialism.

Capitalism is now a global phenomenon. It is being powered by the actions of companies and governments and individuals all over the world. And in the search for growth and higher standards of living, countries will continue to use free markets and free trade to power their rise. Governments have not liberalized their markets because Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson or his predecessor Robert Rubin ordered them to; they did so because they could see the benefits of moving in that direction (and the costs of not moving). This process will continue to be halting and episodic, depending on political pressures. But I suspect that over the next 20 years, most countries will try to free up their markets (in a controlled fashion) to get more growth rather than nationalize bits of their economies. Certainly the history of past economic crises shows that in their wake countries have conducted more-aggressive economic reforms to bring greater credibility to their systems, attract new capital and jump-start growth.

As all this suggests, the current debate about government and markets is sterile. Every serious thinker understands we need both. The question is how to balance the two to achieve growth, innovation, stability and social equity. The crucial need is not for big government or small government but smart government. How can we make government work for the vast majority of people, for future generations, for the broad welfare of society?

The real problem we face today is not a crisis of capitalism. It is a crisis of globalization. The new world coming into being is not going to go away. We will not return to a system dominated by a handful of countries around the North Atlantic. The factors powering the rise of the global economy, and thus the rise of the rest, are broad structural forces that have been at work for decades. They are not ephemeral and will not vanish in the face of one financial crisis or recession. They will endure, and in the process shift power away from established centers in the West.

But will this lead to a more stable world?

There is, of course, the age-old worry: that in times of transition, the world will get messy. Ever since Thucydides observed that the shift in power from Sparta to Athens was the fundamental cause of the Peloponnesian War, scholars have watched such moments with apprehension. But this time, if properly managed, the rise of the rest needs to be destabilizing. America is not sinking fast, about to be replaced by a single country. The Chinese economy remains one fifth the size of America's, and its military is even smaller. Most major powers share some basic interests and ideals with the United States. The real danger remains that Washington will overplay its hand, leading other countries to seek to balance it. The management of U.S. political and military power remains the single most important task for global stability. The United States must provide rules, institutions and services that help solve major global problems.

But common action—to create public goods—has become much more difficult today. Economic and social activity is global, but political power is local. Economic, social and political problems often spill over borders, yet the solutions tend to lie with national governments that jealously guard their sovereignty. Unless we solve this basic problem, we should expect more crises of various kinds. And we should expect responses that are ad hoc and ineffective. Eventually such clumsy responses may make countries approach things narrowly and nationalistically, creating more global instability and less peace and prosperity.

To illustrate this point, consider almost any serious problem; chances are it implicates more than one country. Terrorism, financial contagion, infectious diseases, energy, security—all these challenges require coordinated responses, and in some cases institutions that can implement them. Take a simple example like infectious disease. An outbreak today is almost guaranteed to quickly spread far and wide. That means we all have an incentive to determine the nature of the pathogen as quickly as possible, isolate the victims and work toward a cure. Ideally, the World Health Organization would be able to step in, require samples of the virus to be sent to it, make a definitive determination and set protocols to be followed. Unfortunately, it is underfunded, undermanned and lacks the authority to make rules that everyone must follow.

This mismatch between problem and solution has been remarked on by me and others for a while now. Somehow it has yet to move up the international agenda. Yet that may finally be changing.

Sometimes a crisis provides an opportunity. This past fall, several Western governments initially responded to the financial meltdown by trying to handle it on their own. They seemed to forget about globalization—and nothing is more globalized than capital. Money flows around the world with no barriers, demanding international policy coordination. Belatedly recognizing this, leaders held the G20 meeting in Washington, a good first step. But to seriously address the crisis, we must move beyond this one event to a systemic fix. The IMF, for example, needs to be revamped and funded far more generously to handle such panics in the future.

It has become conventional wisdom, even a sport of sorts, to blame the United States for a lack of leadership on these issues. There is some truth to this, and I certainly hope that President Obama will be far more engaged than his predecessor in tackling this agenda. But the problem is not limited to Washington. The problem also lies with Paris and Moscow and Beijing and New Delhi. European governments have been reluctant to cede power to the IMF and other forums. The United Nations is becoming increasingly irrelevant and antiquated, unable to adapt its structure to accommodate rising powers. Many emerging-market countries guard their sovereignty as jealously as does the United States, often even more so. Yet what alternative is there?

The point is that unless we find ways to expand and enhance the rules and institutions of global cooperation, the world will experience more and more crises and the government responses will be hasty and ad hoc, too little, too late. If, on the other hand, we come together and work together on the common problems of humanity, imagine the extraordinary opportunities it could create for everyone. Imagine if we created new rules of the road that allowed this extraordinary process of globalization and growth to persist and spread to every section of society, raising standards of living and health for the poorest of the poor, allowing more and more people to develop their potential.

Citizens and governments the world over have worked wonders during the past few decades. Now it's time for their governments to match this ingenuity with new forms of cooperation. The great project of the 21st century should be a new architecture—one that helps to ensure growth and peace for the world

Fashion - US;Putting the Chich back in Dressing

Sameer Reddy

If you ask citizens of other countries to paint a portrait of the average American tourist, it would look something like this: a loud, chubby sight-seer wearing a fanny pack, baseball cap, printed T shirt, jean shorts and sneakers. It may seem like a funny, if harmless, image, but combined with the imprint of the outgoing president, the fashion-challenged cowboy in chief, the stereotype of the ugly American has become intractable. The United States has a serious public-relations problem, but the election of President Obama—with his youthful, clean-cut good looks—offers a valuable opportunity for a national top-to-toe makeover.

Yanks haven't always dressed so badly. Consider as evidence the remarkable cable-TV series "Mad Men," with its coterie of early-'60s-era wasp-waisted women, and Don Draper and his advertising-agency colleagues cutting dashing figures in their sober suits. That kind of formality is dead, of course, and with good reason. "Casual is comfortable," says Nicole Phelps, the executive editor of Style.com. "Those girdles and the [silhouette] they created look incredibly chic, but I don't think most contemporary women would put up with the discomfort of wearing one. Nor are they likely willing to put in the time it took to get dressed like that. People are busy. Dress codes have been relaxed. Hats and gloves look like costumes now. Simplicity rules."

It may come as news to the rest of the world, but simplicity—as opposed to sloppiness—is America's true stylistic heritage. The girdles that defined the sartorial shape of the '50s were holdovers of a European influence, the constraints of which American designers energetically threw off as the decades passed. Claire McCardell, Bonnie Cashin, Anne Klein, Perry Ellis, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan—their generous, democratic sportswear freed men and women to live their lives without worrying inordinately about how they looked. Somewhere along the way, however, Americans lost the chic part of casual chic.

They need to get it back. Not just to restore the country's sartorial reputation in the eyes of the world, but because it represents the values Americans hold most dear. The United States was built on the efforts of plain-spoken people who took pride in an honest day's work and who would give their neighbors the plaid shirts off their backs. Those with the means made a virtue of exuding relaxed elegance; they didn't try to overdo anything, but they saw no shame in appearing put together. It was an extension of what they believed in, a polished pragmatism that, today, has given way to self-indulgence.

Comfort has its place, of course, but if that becomes the guiding value in getting dressed—or anything else—then we've got a problem. This misplaced priority has arguably contributed to our current troubles with credit, education and productivity. Compared with our parents and grandparents, we've had it relatively easy. We've got cable TV, microwave popcorn and GPS. The world is at our command and we are at ease, but this kind of comfort breeds complacency—not to mention Velcro straps and elasticized waistbands. We'd be better off showcasing some of the original values that brought us so far.

Contemporary retail offerings don't make it easy. The mass market is defined by a Juicy Couture, pajamas-as-daywear mentality, while the next generation of American design talent is largely caught up in approximating European fashionability, or harking back to "Mad Men"-like looks.

Thankfully, there are some exceptions. For women, Bruce, sold at Kirna Zabete in New York and Ron Herman in Los Angeles, is one label that stands out for its unsentimental and down-to-earth approach to high-end chic. The clothing—subtly tailored suits, soft blouses and delicate dresses—speaks of a quiet confidence. And nothing represents the classic Platonic ideal of American fashion than the wrap dress invented by Diane von Furstenberg in 1973, and relaunched to major success in 1997. Functional yet feminine, it's ingeniously simple—and doesn't wrinkle.

The suit remains the staple item for well-dressed men. But outside the boardroom or the ballroom, it's an unpopular choice. Rather than break out the cargo shorts and Hooters T shirts, men might opt for a well-tailored sport jacket and pair of dark-wash jeans by John Varvatos—an urban-cowboy look of which even President Bush would approve. Companies like Club Monaco, owned by Ralph Lauren, have further refined the category of elegant casual, with pima-cotton sweatshirts and thin-wale corduroys guaranteeing comfort without the taste trade-off of athletic shorts.

When Obama takes office Jan. 20, Americans will, with luck, create their own new New Look, modeled after his elegantly simple and straightforward wardrobe and manner. And women everywhere will be watching carefully as the new First Lady, Michelle, tries to find the elusive balance not only between work and family but between practical and stylish dressing. It will take time to erase the unfortunate image of armies of tourists roaming world capitals clad in gym shorts and Boston Red Sox T shirts. But if we're smart, we'll take advantage of this new beginning to define ourselves on our own best terms. The first step? Lose the fanny pack.

Reddy is a fine artist and freelance writer based in Berlin who covers lifestyle, fashion, travel and culture.

World - US;Remains of 9/11 Hijackers

Eve Conant

In the grim, sleepless months of excavation after the September 11 attacks, forensic pathologists in New York City worked day and night to identify the dead. They didn't have much to go on. The collapsed World Trade Center towers had burned at temperatures reaching 2,000 degrees, incinerating those trapped inside. Many of the bodies of the passengers aboard the two airplanes that struck the buildings were consumed by burning jet fuel, leaving only traces of DNA, much of it so damaged that it was impossible to read. Few bodies were found intact. Most of the human remains culled from the vast wreckage at Ground Zero were little more than tiny fragments of charred tissue and bone. The volume was overwhelming. Robert Shaler, who headed the city's Department of Forensic Biology and was a leader of the identification effort, worried his lab would be paralyzed if it tried to identify every piece. At first, they decided they would only attempt to test samples that were "the size of a thumb or larger," he says. But when they saw how small many of the fragments were, they changed their minds. "If we were really going to make an honest effort," Shaler says, "we had to do everything that came along."

Shaler and his colleagues at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner gave weekly updates to family members of the victims, reporting how many of the dead had been identified and reassuring them that the city was doing everything to identify their loved ones. But the families weren't only concerned with their own dead. In meeting after meeting, Shaler says, relatives would ask about the hijackers. Had the scientists identified any of their remains?

"They did not want the terrorists mixed in with their loved ones," says Shaler. The families said, "These people were criminals and did not deserve to be with them." The families asked for the remains of the hijackers to be separated out and kept someplace else. Shaler shared their frustration. Now 66, his hair and beard a grandfatherly white, Shaler says he could not always separate his duties a scientist from his own emotions: a little more than a year into the investigation, he suffered a heart attack. At the early meetings, he told the families he didn't think it would be possible to sort out the remains; by the spring of 2002, Shaler and his staff of 105 scientists had yet to identify any of the New York hijackers. "I thought we'd never find remains from anyone on the planes," he says. But he promised to try.

The blunt reality is that no matter how fastidious their efforts, the scientists will never fully sort the victims from the hijackers. The fragments are too small, too ruined and too scattered for bodies to be restored in their entirety. Some were lost to fire or during the excavation of the wreckage. Today, 1,126 of the 2,751 victims from the World Trade Center and five individuals from the Pentagon have yet to be identified at all—none of their remains and no traces of their DNA have been found.

Scientists are still trying. More than seven years later, the effort continues to identify the missing victims—and hijackers. Shaler and his successors have fulfilled at least part of their promise to the families. Through a combination of innovative DNA-mapping techniques, help from the FBI's crime lab and dumb luck, the scientists have now ID'd four of the 10 New York hijackers. The remains of the nine hijackers from the Pentagon and Pennsylvania crash sites have also been confirmed; six other hijackers have yet to be identified.

What's left of the terrorists—which, all told, likely amounts to less than 24 pounds of flesh and bone fragments—are sequestered at undisclosed locations in New York and Virginia. They are "stored as evidence in a refrigerated locker in sealed containers and test tubes," says Richard Kolko, a spokesman for the FBI.

None of the families of the hijackers, and no foreign governments, have come forward to request that the remains be handed over, and it is not clear what the official response would be if they did. The U.S. government has not said what, if anything, it plans to do with them. "No determination has yet been made," says FBI spokesman Kolko. For now, they are being held as evidence in the still-open 9/11 investigation. Yet at some point, the investigation will be closed. The remains of the identified victims have been returned to their families; but what is to be done with the remnants of their killers?

In the late fall of 2001, as Shaler and his colleagues were engaged in the slow work of conducting DNA tests on the thousands of fragments from Ground Zero, pathologists at the Pennsylvania and Pentagon sites were moving much more quickly. Many of the remains were burned and badly damaged, but identifiable. In Pennsylvania, Somerset County coroner Wallace E. Miller and his team scoured the "halo"—the field and woods surrounding the crater left when United Airlines Flight 93 plunged into the ground. The debris was everywhere. Trees were draped with scraps of luggage, clothing, bits of the fuselage and human remains. Walking through the crash site in the days after the attacks, Miller's eye caught a flash of light 20 feet up in the branches of a hemlock tree. "I only noticed it because the sun happened to hit it at just the right angle," he says. A tree climber brought it down. It was a single tooth with a silver filling. Eventually it was matched to one of the passengers.

In the first two weeks after 9/11, Miller and his team identified 16 of the 44 passengers and crew aboard Flight 93 through fingerprint and dental records. For others, he turned to DNA testing. Hairbrushes and razors collected from the families of the victims provided DNA to match up with human fragments pulled from the wrecked plane.

Like Shaler in New York, Miller met with families of the victims, and they, too, wanted to know if the remains of the hijackers were being sifted out. Miller explained to them that it wasn't as simple as that. There were still some 300 pounds of unidentified remains. Much of it had been damaged beyond recognition by exposure to air and 11,000 gallons of jet fuel. "I told them there would likely be terrorist remains interspersed with them," says Miller. "There were varying degrees of angst and anger about that."

Still, he did what he could to honor the request. Miller and his team sent fragments from the Pennsylvania crash site for testing at the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory in Rockville, Md. "Our priority was not the hijackers, it was getting the victims back to their families," says Brion Smith, the lab's director. But the remains of the terrorists stood out. Four of the DNA profiles from the Pennsylvania crash site didn't match material provided by the families of passengers and crew. By simple process of elimination, Smith knew these were the hijackers. He sent the samples back to Miller along with the genetic codes.

It was just what Miller was hoping for. With those four profiles in hand, he could weed out the terrorists' remains. He went to the freezers, which were filled with thousands of painstakingly bagged and tagged human fragments retrieved from the crash. Miller scanned the icy plastic bags, looking for genetic profiles that matched Smith's data. He pulled out four bags and laid them on a large table. "All that remained of the four men was less than 10 pounds" of fragments, Miller says. "I had about 48 samples that were associated with the terrorists, mostly bony tissue and I think maybe some scalp with hair on it." He also couldn't tell which set of remains belonged to which terrorist. "Obviously none of the terrorists' families came forward with any information—they were like four John Does," says Miller. "So I just referred to them as Terrorist A, B, C and D."

In New York, efforts to identify the terrorists were more difficult. There were still too many victims who had not been identified by their DNA, making it impossible to flag the terrorists by a process of elimination. The scientists needed the DNA profiles from the hijackers. Shaler's office turned to the FBI for help. The request made its way to the desk of Alan Giusti, the lab's forensic examiner in charge of the September 11 investigation. As it turned out, Giusti had worked for Shaler at a private DNA lab in the '80s, when the technology was in its infancy. Now Giusti was spending his days using genetic clues to nail bank robbers and murderers.

Working with a team of specialists on the third floor of the J. Edgar Hoover building in Washington, D.C., Giusti was in fact already creating DNA profiles of the New York terrorists from scraps of evidence left behind in hotel rooms and rental cars in the days before the attacks. A large basement room in the FBI building was filled with boxes of evidence, each piece stored in a brown paper bag. "It looks low tech," says Giusti, but the bags keep out humidity or dryness—"the two demons of DNA analysis." For DNA sleuths used to working with tiny scraps of genetic material, it was the mother lode: "fingernail clippings, chewing gum, hairbrushes, anything we could get dead skin off of," he says. When they swabbed the "friction areas" along the inside collars of shirts, the DNA came back mixed, an indication that the hijackers may have shared clothes. A few pieces of used tissue, tossed into a hotel room wastebasket, yielded clues, as did saliva from cigarette butts. Giusti mixed them with enzymes to release DNA—"like cracking the nut of a shell to get the meat out," he says. The "amplified" product—a few drops of clear, viscous liquid—was then put into a large machine that spits out lists of numbers, a genetic map unique to each individual.

It took more than a year for Giusti's lab to get back to New York with the results—a single page with 10 genetic codes. It was February 2003, and Shaler and his crew got to work on the numbers immediately. They were anxious to see if they could make a match to any of the unidentified remains they had retrieved. Shaler's deputy, Howard Baum, thought it would never work. How could they be sure that the clothing and tissues and cigarette butts were really those of the hijackers? "We had no idea where the profiles came from or how they were developed," says Baum. "I was skeptical." A scientist entered the codes into the lab's Mass Fatality Identification System. They told the computer to display any matches to the hijacker profiles in red. Immediately, there were two matches. Shaler and Baum were elated—they would be able to weed out at least some of the terrorists' remains after all. "Finding the first match was the big deal," says Baum. "It was proof of the concept—that we could identify the hijackers. Our job was not for the dead, it was for the living."

The red-flagged fragments "have been removed from the general population" of remains, says Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for the New York medical examiner's office. "We will not discuss where they are."

Shaler and the other New York pathologists sent some of the most damaged human fragments to private forensics labs that specialize in advanced DNA-retrieval techniques. One was the Bode lab in Lorton, Va., which is known for extracting genetic material from bones. The New York team gave the lab a seemingly impossible challenge: to identify 12,000 burnt bone fragments. The bones "had been burning in the rubble at extreme temperatures," says Mike Cariola, the lab's director, "and we were only getting DNA samples on half the ones we tested." Cariola recalls that "some pieces of bone were so charred that if you held it with two fingers it would disintegrate." But using a new technique they developed that releases genetic material by removing calcium from bones, Cariola and his colleagues were able to get DNA profiles out of 2,000 samples that were previously unreadable. Cariola says the work resulted in at least 18 new identifications.

In September 2007 the medical examiner's office in New York announced it had identified a fourth set of terrorist remains —the 13th identified to date.

Some of the 9/11 families have been particularly vocal about singling out terrorist remains. "OK, you found these bastards, now take them out from the same place where our loved ones are," says John Cartier, whose younger brother James was on the 105th floor of the South Tower when it collapsed.

Cartier says he is just as certain about what should be done with those remains once the investigation is put to rest. He suggests "stomping on them." It isn't difficult to find others who share Cartier's visceral rage, undiminished with the years. New York Gov. David Paterson has his own idea: "finish burning them."

Yet some relatives of the dead take no comfort in doing imaginary harm to the bones of the terrorists. Diane Horning's 26-year-old son, Matthew, was on the 95th floor of Tower One. She says if the hijackers' families come forward, "I think they have a right to the remains, I really do. We are all entitled to burial according to our religion or conviction."

Islamic tradition prohibits cremation and calls for quick burial. Yet Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who leads a mosque 12 blocks from Ground Zero, says the hijackers themselves made that an impossibility: "It's hard to believe they expected their bodies would be whole and given a proper burial."

So far none of the hijackers' families have come forward to request the remains. Khaled Abou El Fadl, a law professor at UCLA and an authority on Islamic law, says he would be surprised if they did: "I've heard many times in the Muslim community that to claim and bury a body of one of the hijackers is to admit or accept that it was indeed those hijackers who committed 9/11."

Reached by NEWSWEEK, one relative of Ziad Jarrah, the hijacker believed to have piloted Flight 93 into a Pennsylvania field, expressed just this kind of ambivalence. "Of course we want to get back his remains, but we are not planning to make any contact before things get clarified," said the relative, who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation. He couldn't bring himself to admit that Jarrah had carried out the atrocities. "Maybe he participated," he says. "Maybe there is something we don't know." But then he paused. Perhaps, he conceded, his relative was indeed involved and he himself was just "engaging in wishful thinking." Admitting it outright, Professor El Fadl says, would run counter to the prevalent belief in countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt that the attacks were actually an anti-Arab conspiracy perpetrated by the Bush administration. If he were related to one of the hijackers, he says, "I'd be scared for the harm that might befall the rest of my family by the Saudi or Egyptian government if I showed an interest," he says. "There is an environment of fear in countries like Saudi Arabia; it's hard to describe. The culture of terror is suffocating."

In June 2002, Miller, the Pennsylvania coroner, received a 4 a.m. phone call from a man in Lebanon who claimed he was the uncle of one of the hijackers. The man wanted to know why his nephew's remains hadn't been returned. "And I said, 'Well, we're not sure which one's which'," Miller recalls. "If he had any DNA material he could send me, I could cross-match like we did for the passengers and crew. Then I pointed out the FBI had custody of the remains—and that was the end of it." Would Miller have made the effort? He says the FBI has the final say, but as for him: "Absolutely," he says. "They are human beings that have passed away in the commonwealth just like my great granddad. I can't arbitrarily say who I will apply the law to … The Good Lord will sort out their deeds."

As a religious matter, says Rauf, what happens to the remnants of the hijackers is not of great consequence. Muslims believe that "all souls will be judged" by God, he says. "What determines the state of your soul is your actions while you were alive." The problem of what to do with the hijackers, Rauf says, "is not so different from Mumbai, where the Indian Muslim community rejected the terrorists because they did not regard them as Muslim and would not give them a Muslim burial. My conviction is that the American Muslim community would reject the 9/11 hijackers." Even so, he believes that the remains should be returned. It would be, he says, an example of "the highest morals. This is what makes America great."

The FBI and the New York Medical Examiner's office, which holds them in secret and in silence, has no policy that dictates what will become of them. "They didn't want to bury them, and they certainly won't put them in the same memorial as the victims," says Baum, who now heads the New Jersey State Police crime lab. "Everyone is waiting because no one quite knows what to do." In the end, inertia and indecision may provide the most fitting final resting place for the remnants of the terrorists, lost to time and memory in some forgotten government vault, unnamed, unburied and unwanted.

With Rana Fil in Lebanon